This sentence appears among the subtitles to an episode of Die Chefin:

Ich meine nur von Alters wegen.

Duden does not have a noun "Alters", and searching DWDS and Linguee returns no examples of "von Alters wegen". A few examples of "von Alters" can be found in DWDS, but those appear to be genitive usages. Is this sentence dialect (the story takes place in Munich)?

There are two prepositions concerned with Alters here, von and wegen. What grammatical rule says that "wegen" has precedence and not the dative-requiring "von"? Duden identifies the "von ... wegen" under "Phrases, idioms, proverbs", but does not indicate how to decline the middle contents. I could find nothing in DWDS about von...wegen.

2 Answers 2


Alters is the Genitiv form of Alter, meaning "age" and von [Noun in Genitiv] wegen means as much as wegen [Noun in Genitiv], i.e. "because of".

So, the sentence translates to something like

I just want to say, because of [their] age.

The sentence seems to be a part of a conversation, for a proper understanding / translation, it is necessary to have more context.

But since you are not asking for a translation, this is the explanation of the grammatical structure of the sentence.


Since you already correctly identified Alters as genitive from Alter I need just to supplement the following:

  • DWDS states for wegen: Präposition, auch nachgestellt (preposition, also trailing) and it is this trailing position you seem to stumble over. I admit, that pre-position is misleading then, but other prepositions share this property; e. g. "halber" can only be used in trailing position
  • This is perfectly legal and has no dialect component (I would assume, this way of use is on the descending branch, but is not yet considered as dated)
  • Since it is a property of wegen you don't find dictionary hint at the entry for Alter.
  • Typical other combinations of trailing wegen are:
    • von Berufs wegen
    • von Amts wegen
    • von Rechts wegen
    • des Geldes wegen

Update: The updated question seems to boil down to: "when a fixed phrase includes two pronouns mandating different cases, which one wins?" I don't have an answer to that and doubt, whether there is generic answer.

  • I protest! Please see my above edit.
    – user44591
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:54
  • Another example: meinetwegen
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 2:34
  • 2
    @user44591: If I understand correctly, you recognized from my answer, that your question needed clarification and want to announce, that you modified it. I have no idea, what protest including exclamation mark is supposed to mean in that context.
    – guidot
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 7:57
  • Yes, that is what I meant. It seemed as if the respondents have been ignoring the fact that in the sentence Alters follows von, which takes dative, not genitive. I was protesting that that had been ignored. If no other explanation is forthcoming I will chalk it up to idiomatic usage.
    – user44591
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 17:42

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